Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations

0643a Holidays Hill

Soil and site characteristics
Naturally very acid sandy over clayey and loamy over clayey soils locally with humose or peaty surface horizons, slowly permeable subsoils and slight seasonal waterlogging. Some very acid well drained sandy soils, and some deep sandy soils, affected by groundwater with humose surface horizons.

Tertiary and Cretaceous sand, loam and clay
Cropping and Land Use
Wet lowland heath habitats and coniferous woodland recreation; some agriculture and horticulture.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
6.43 HOLIDAYS HILL 25% Ruptic Stagnic Albic Carbic Podzols
6.31 SHIRRELL HEATH 20% Albic Podzols
7.11 KINGS NEWTON 20% Ruptic Dystric Luvic Stagnosols
8.61 ISLEHAM 10% Arenic Mollic Gleysols
6.43 RAPLEY 10% Endostagnic Albic Carbic Podzols
Covers 346 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Naturally wet very acid sandy and loamy soils

Alert ! - humus podzols read the alert
Alert ! - sandy soils read the alert

0643a Holidays Hill

Detailed Description

This association consists of acid podzolic Tertiary sands, barns and clays in Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire, and on Tertiary flinty clays and Cretaceous Greensand on the Haldon Hills between Exeter and Newton Abbot. In Devon, flinty stagnogley podzols of the sandy over fine loamy Holidays Hill series and coarse loamy over clayey Haldon series are dominant on the flat tops of the Haldon Hills. The upper parts of these soils are in a coarse textured drift and where this thickens in places, or where there is flinty gravel with a sandy matrix, permeable, sandy gravelly paleo-argillic podzols of the Southampton series are found. Shirrell Heath soils, well drained sandy humo-ferric podzols formerly described as Telegraph series, cover the steep Greensand slopes around Great and Little Haldon, but locally less permeable Rapley soils, stagnogley podzols, are developed. At the foot of the slopes slowly permeable soils, previously described as the Kiddens series, and now correlated with the Hindlip and Brockhurst series, are found in coarse or fine loamy drift over reddish clay weathered from Permian rocks.

In most districts the component soils are developed in Bagshot and Bracklesham Beds, formations of varied lithology giving a complex soil pattern. Though Holidays Hill soils are usually dominant they are often less frequent than Shirrell Heath soils on higher ground. East of Lyndhurst, on Barton sands, Rapley series is the most common soil. Kings Newton soils are common where thin coarse loamy drift occurs over clay and on cultivated land. Isleham soils are found in waterlogged sites on low ground accompanied in places by sandy Lakenheath soils, Duckpit and Blackwood soils. There are small areas of Crowdy soils in oligotrophic peat in small valleys and flushed sites on Chobham Common in Surrey and on West Wellow and Cadnam Commons and in Denny Bog in the New Forest. Curdridge, Swanwick or Hurst soils are found in small patches of coarse loamy Tertiary beds and flinty and gravelly drift respectively. Hedge End soils occur locally in glauconitic Tertiary deposits.

Soil Water Regime

Holidays Hill and Kings Newton soils have slowly permeable substrata and are seasonally waterlogged (Wetness Class IV). They are wet at the surface for long periods in winter and thin humose or peaty surface horizons develop under heathland. Rapley soils also have compact, moderately permeable subsurface horizons (Wetness Class III), but surface waterlogging is less marked. Shirrell Heath soils are permeable and freely drained (Wetness Class I). Isleham soils with humose surface horizons in sites affected by groundwater are waterlogged for prolonged periods (Wetness Class V), whereas Crowdy soils in valley bottoms are more or less permanently waterlogged (Wetness Class VI). Some winter rain is absorbed but surface flow is common after prolonged rainfall and surface ponding occurs locally.

Cropping and Land Use

Because of their inherent infertility, Holidays Hill and Rapley soils are seldom under cultivation. For arable cropping, underdrainage and regular liming are required, and particular attention must be paid to timely cultivations to avoid compaction of topsoils. Grassland on wetter sites can be safely grazed in summer only, and the wettest humose and peaty soils are ill-suited for any agricultural use.

Much of the land is forested, especially on the plateau. Here Scots pine and more recently Corsican pine, Douglas fir and Lodgepole pine have been planted. Growth is poor because of the lack of nutrients, especially phosphorus, and root development is restricted in the compact subsoils. Production can be enhanced by the use of fertilizers and by deep cultivation between crops. Open areas have mixed heath vegetation with ling (Calluna vulgaris), bell-heather (Erica cinerea), cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix), dwarf furze (Ulex gallii), purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) and bristle agrostis (Agrostis curtisii). On steep slopes Shirrell Heath soils support dry heath with bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). The Haldon Hills have a diverse range of habitats for wildlife and are a useful open space, readily accessible from the nearby towns and coastal resorts.

Waterlogging, acidity and infertility restrict the number of species suited to commercial forestry. Tine ploughing of heathland aids surface drainage, breaks subsurface pans giving better rooting conditions and assists in the control of ericaceous weeds essential for crop establishment. Dressings of phosphorus fertilizers help establishment and early growth.

The principal semi-natural plant community on these soils is humid heathland, characterised by ling (Calluna vulgaris) with cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) and purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea). Other communities include dry and wet heathland and oligotrophic valley mire. Small patches of dry heathland with ling and bell-heather (Erica cinerea), or grassland with sheep's fescue (Festuca ovina) and brown bent-grass (Agrostis canina) are developed on Shirrell Heath soils on many of the Surrey heaths. Wet heathland and mire are more common in the New Forest, where there is a larger proportion of wetter Kings Newton and Isleham soils on which there is less ling and more purple moor-grass, with heath grass (Danthonia decumbens), deer-grass (Trichophorum cespitosum), carnation-grass and common sedge (Carex panicea and C. nigra). The wet valley bottoms with Crowdy series support bog mosses (Sphagnum spp), bog myrtle (Myrica gale), marsh St John's wort (Hypericum elodes) and marsh cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris), or alternatively carr with alder, sallow and panicled sedge (Carex paniculata).

0643a Holidays Hill

Distribution Map

Note that the yellow shading represents a buffer to highlight the location of very small areas of the association.

Keys to component soil series

South Eastern Region

All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2024

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2024. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 16/07/2024

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